NoDak Spud railed iron sight system for the Ruger 10/22

By J.M. Ramos

The world of military small arms development certainly got more exciting as we move toward the third decade of the 21st century. There have been enormous amounts of sophisticated civilian versions of these magnificent battle arms and their bolt-on gadgetries designed primarily for the class or caliber of firearms ranging from cal.22 rimfires to cal.50 BMG and beyond. We have entered an era of “sky is the limit” with no end in sight.

The popularity of rimfire tactical guns is still soaring as the cost of center-fire ammunition has gone up considerably over the years. Secondly, these new generation clones are truly works of art in terms of authenticity and realism, something lacking in the vintage lookalikes of the 80’s. These modern rimfire clones may or may not be equipped with iron sights. However, if they are, normally they are not for precision and basically act as an emergency back-up sight (BUIS) in the event the optic becomes unserviceable. Also, the majority of these models have their front sights mounted on the forearm (AR style guns) and not directly to the barrel, which can result in a less accurate firearm even with the slightest play on the forearm as the front sight can change position each time the gun is fired unless the forearm is rigidly mounted without any play at the front.

While rimfire clones still dominate the tactical gun market due to their sophisticated looks and being able to accept virtually any type of accessories of their big bore counterparts, they also have their shortcomings when compared to the more traditional sporting versions.

Except for those models that incorporate polymer on most of their major components, rimfire clones are heavier due to more metals used in their overall construction, not to mention disassembly time when the gun needs an overhaul. The Ruger 10/22 is considered the frontrunner of any rimfire self-loader and remains unbeaten as the world’s most successful in its class despite the entry of many sophisticated models that challenged its spot over the years. For the 10/22 enthusiasts who still prefer the old school of marksmanship opting for iron sight over optics while still having the option of being able to mount various sizes of optics ranging from miniature reflex type up to full side long-range scope, there is one company that came up with the ultimate solution and they did it with flair and style.

Enter NoDak Spud LLC. NDS was founded by Harlan Ekre on September 16, 2005 in Edina, MN when Federal Arms Corporation (FAC), the company he worked for as a sales manager, declared bankruptcy. At that time, NDS shared a small space of the Edina facility owned and operated by Dan Coonan Industries (DCI) or Coonan Arms, most known for their popular .357 Magnum 1911 pistol family. In the early days, DCI produced FAL rifle receivers for the FAC company and AK receivers for NDS. When FAC was forced into bankruptcy, DCI lost access to the casting molds of the FAL component terminating its further productions. With FAC being out of business, Ekre went ahead and formed NDS and continued marketing AK receivers made under a DCI manufacturing license.

With the growing demand for the NDS AK, AKM and AK74 stamped receivers, Ekre soon moved to its own facility along with a new partner, Mike Wetteland, and begun producing high quality reproductions of the classic Vietnam era M16A1, XM16E1 along with matching uppers, 20-shot waffle type magazine and XM style triangular charging handles for maximum authenticity. Having produced very high quality products at a reasonable cost, the demand for more popular retro rifle components inspired the company to expand its product line with the addition of the billet CNC machined AR-18 replacement receiver. The original stamped AR18 rifle receivers are flimsy and known to break on their spot welds, earning a bad reputation as a throw-away gun. NDS replacement parts are available in T-6 billet aluminum or high strength polymer material, very authentic in detail up to its simulated spot welds of the original stamped receiver.

The outstanding popularity and demand for a better component for the Ruger 10/22 became the focus of NDS soon producing first rate CNC machined receivers and railed rearsight in various styles and sizes.

The NDS 6061 T-6 billet receivers are available in different styles and are available in Type 3 hardcoat anodize or clear stainless finish and perfectly match their sight and rails. NDS receivers are drilled and tapped 8X40 t.p.i. and take a standard Weaver 63B scope base. In addition, NDS also produced a beautiful flash hider for a threaded 10/22 barrel patterned after the Iraqi Tabuk AK muzzle device.

To further maximize the versatility of the 10/22, NoDak came up with what could be the finest high quality CNC machined from solid 6061 T6 aluminum matching GI style rear sight/front sight assembly with black type 3 hard anodize finish. The fit and finish of the rear sight to the receiver are outstanding- a seamless fit. The rear sight is available in two versions, the short NDS-37 and the railed version NDS-35. These two sights are designed strictly to fit the NDS receivers with flat top and will not fit the Ruger 10/22. For Ruger manufactured 10/22’s with circular receiver’s top end, Nodak produced the NDS-26 rear sight with rails and NDS-13 for the shorter no-rail version. Both sights also fit the 10/22 receiver flush with no gaps. The rear sight comes complete with matching 4 torx head screws for assembly. The superb styling of the sights along with its high quality machining and finish contributed further to the aesthetic of the rifle no matter what configuration it is used for (long-range sniper style of short SBR type). Not only did the NDS sights improve the look of the gun, but they also optimized its accuracy by incorporating an M16A1 rear sight with an A2 aperture for improved sight picture. For an even more accurate gun, NDS upgraded the sight drum by increasing the number of holes from 5 to 10 for finer windage adjustment. In addition to all these refinements, the rear sight was positioned as far to the rear of the receiver increasing its sight radius to maximum which in turn provided the best sight picture and accuracy potential at longer ranges.

Complementing the rear sight is the NDS front sight assembly also CNC machined from solid T-6 aluminum. It is available in three versions that will fit the standard 10/22 Carbine barrel (NDS-40) .920 dia. heavy barrel (NDS-23) and factory threaded barrels without front sight used in the SR-22 (NDS-44).

The front sight assembly comes complete with custom SKS style front sight post (.050 diameter) specially made for NDS by KNS Precision, a company specializing with military front sight post design and manufacture. The sight base is secured tightly to the barrel by two 10-32 nylon tipped set screws. The front sight post is elevation adjustable using a regular SKS tool or similar gadget that fits the flat section of the post.

Evaluating the NDS iron sight system was quite a pleasant surprise. Being an old school shooter who still prefers the classic iron sights despite the availability of sophisticated optics today, the NDS sights really performed well beyond my expectation, using heavy barrel and short-barreled 10/22 rifles. When compared to a stock 10/22 with factory iron sight, the NDS won hands down with up to 65% in accuracy with various type of ammo used with ranges up to 100 yards. The sight picture is phenomenal and remained sharp beyond 50 yards. The combination of GI A2 peep sight and refined SKS front sight post and increased radius proved to be a remarkable combination that is hard to beat. To see the NDS full product line visit www.nodakspud.com.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N4 (May 2017)
and was posted online on March 17, 2017


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